Aubergine

If there’s ‘Naked News,’ there can be ‘Red English’

August 12, 2014

The owner says the appearance of teachers is just as important as their abilities to teach

Vanessa, one of five instructors at Red English, is a former fashion model. As competition in teaching business gets hotter, some teachers choose to show more skin to attract students.

Vanessa, one of five instructors at Red English, is a former fashion model. As competition in teaching business gets hotter, some teachers choose to show more skin to attract students.

By Jung Min-ho

When Kim Tae-wook watched “Naked News,” a subscription website on which bulletins are presented by naked female anchors, he thought the idea was “brilliant” and decided to adapt it for the classroom.

In June, he and his business partners launched an English language institute, Red English, with a team of five “hot” teachers, and their marketing strategy is certainly getting attention.

After failing to convince the teachers to get naked in front of their students and cameras, Kim had to change his plan; they keep their clothes on when they teach.

Yet sex appeal is clearly a selling point.

There are former grid girls, models and beauty pageant contestants on the staff and they are in their late 20s, he said. Kim did not pick younger applicants “because Red English’s target consumers are guys in their 30s and 40s.”

“More than 99 percent of students are men,” Kim told The Korea Times. “The number of students is growing steadily.”

He believes that the appearance of teachers is just as important as their abilities to teach.

“I spent a lot of time hiring good-looking teachers who can also teach English,” he said.

But information about their academic credentials is unavailable and they only teach the basics of English, which raises questions about their qualifications as teachers.

Still, some people do not mind.

“I thought it was an interesting marketing strategy. I would sign up for membership,” a 28-year-old graduate school student, who refused to named, said. “It is legal and I do not see anything wrong with it.”

Lim Jin, a 31-year-old ballerina who works at a private institute, disagrees.

“I believe the institute totally misses the point of education,” she said. “I doubt the teachers are serious about education judging from the images on its website.”

“Students will be distracted and will not be able to learn much. Even from a business perspective, I think it is a bad idea.”

She expressed her concerns about Korean society that is “increasingly becoming insensitive to the commercialization of sex.”

Observers say it is just the latest twist in the intense competition to grab the attention of students in an increasingly tough English-teaching market.

In fact, Kim said he adopted the marketing strategy to plough a new furrow in the market, in which only teachers with good teaching skills find it difficult to survive. And Red English is hardly alone in pursuing such marketing methods.

Another English language institute, Goddess of English, also offers a team of attractive female teachers, targeting male students. Some women teach English online too while wearing skimpy clothes.

A 29-year-old businessman, who used to work as an English teacher at a private language institute, said selling English with sex appeal is already pervasive ― directly and indirectly.

“Pretty teachers easily grab attention from students. Teachers try hard to promote their classes. Some even appear on television to do so,” he said.

“I am not sure whether institutes such as Red English will succeed. Maybe some will try for curiosity’s sake,” he said. “But I am quite sure students will not waste their money twice on it if the content is not up to par.”

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